The Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for a new offensive coordinator after parting ways with Matt Canada last week. Head coach Mike Tomlin has made it clear that the team will cast a wide net in their search, welcoming candidates from outside the organization.
Tomlin Seeks “New Energy” for Struggling Offense
Tomlin acknowledged on Wednesday that the team’s offensive performance has not met expectations recently, failing to maximize the talents of young quarterback Kenny Pickett.
“We’re looking for the best candidate, whether they’re internal or external,” Tomlin said. “We’re looking for a coach that can tap into the talents of our players and put them in the best position for success.”
Former Steelers center A.Q. Shipley urged the team to make an outside hire to bring some “new energy” to the offense.
“You need an outsider. You need a new set of eyes. You need something that brings a little bit of a new energy into that offensive room,” Shipley said on 93.7 The Fan radio.
Top Outside Candidates Emerge
Several external candidates have already emerged, including some big names with NFL coaching experience:
- Mike McCarthy: The former Packers head coach received an endorsement from Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger this week. “He would be awesome, I think,” Big Ben said. McCarthy led Green Bay to a Super Bowl win in 2010.
- Arthur Smith: The former Falcons head coach was a highly-regarded offensive coordinator in Tennessee prior to last season. He helped turn Ryan Tannehill into an efficient, productive QB.
- Jerrod Johnson: The current Cardinals pass game coordinator/QBs coach has built a strong reputation working under Kliff Kingsbury. He previously coached Deshaun Watson in college.
Table: Notable External OC Candidates for Pittsburgh
|Head Coach Experience?
|Success with QBs?
|Yes, w/ Packers
|Yes, developed Aaron Rodgers
|Yes, recently w/ Falcons
|Yes, revitalized Ryan Tannehill
|Cardinals Pass Game Coordinator
|Yes, Watson & Kyler Murray
In addition to playcalling duties, Tomlin made clear that developing Pickett will be a top priority for the new coordinator.
“Teaching and development is a big part of coaching,” Tomlin stated on Wednesday. Identifying and nurturing talent like Pickett’s will shape the future trajectory of this team.”
In-House Candidates Not in Mix, Focus Stays External
Initially, QBs coach Mike Sullivan and WRs coach Eddie Faulkner were floated as internal OC options. But Tomlin confirmed on Thursday neither would be considered for the vacancy.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport echoed that the team has firmly decided on an external hire:
“My understanding is that is going to be an outside hire,” Rapoport said. “They’re not necessarily looking internally, but more just searching for the best offensive mind possible.”
Coordinator experience appears vital in the team’s search. Former NFL WR Keenan McCardell was suggested by some outlets after joining the staff last season. But without any background directing an NFL offense, he seems unlikely to land the job.
What Happens Next?
The team has cast a wide net, requesting to interview various candidates currently under contract with other teams. But securing permission from those clubs and arranging interviews takes time.
Tomlin said not to expect a quick resolution to the process. Identifying and hiring the right leader for Pickett’s development remains the priority, not rushing into a decision.
Once a new playcaller is eventually installed, attention will turn to molding the offense around Pickett’s skill set. After flashes of promise as a rookie, the first-round pick still has plenty of room to grow in 2024.
Many around the league will be watching closely to see if Tomlin’s outside hire can unlock the young QB’s potential and get the Steelers’ offense back on track after it finished bottom-10 in scoring last season.
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